Government should to step in over 'tainted and dirty' university donations, says professor

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A professor at the University of Oxford has told Sky News the government may need to step in to ensure that institutions do not accept donations from morally questionable sources.

Professor Lawrence Goldman, emeritus fellow in history at St Peter's College, made his remarks after criticising the University of Oxford for reportedly receiving "tainted" donations of more than £12m from the Mosley family since 2017.

The funding came from a charitable trust set up by late motor-racing tycoon Max Mosley using money inherited from his father Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, according to the Telegraph.

Prof Goldman said the fact that universities like the London School of Economics, University College London and Imperial College also accept donations from the Mosley family reflects a "broad problem", adding that the sector needs to be "much more careful".

Asked by Sky's Trevor Phillips if the education secretary should step in to make sure that Oxford returns the Mosley funds, he said: "I believe these universities should largely be self-governing, but if they can't govern themselves effectively, and according to the moral principles that I think most British people would expect of great universities, then there may be a role for the state, indeed."

Prof Goldman accused Oxford of losing its moral compass, saying the institution "has lots of money and can continue to get money from other sources".

"I don't really buy the argument that because you can do some good in Oxford, you should just continue to hold on to what is essentially tainted and dirty money," he said.

He said he has "nothing against" people "apologising and atoning for their sins" and then using their money productively, but said Max Mosley had shown no remorse for supporting his father's movement and "terrorising" people on the streets of London in the 1950s and 1960s.

"Max Mosley should have apologised for his actions," he said. "He should have fessed up to what he had done and then he should have used that money very productively to assist those who were, as it were, on the receiving end - victims of that fascist violence.

"Then, also if you wish to, he could have supported colleges in Oxford in the university."

He said without that apology the money does not belong at the institution.

"Oxford should live by its professions, its values, its academic integrity, and it should reject funds like this which are still tainted," he said.

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The University of Oxford said the donation, like all donations, passed a "robust, independent process taking legal, ethical and reputational issues into consideration".

St Peter's College said the money will be used for new accommodation that would make a "transformative difference" to students' lives "for generations to come".

Lady Margaret Hall said the funding had allowed students from "very diverse and low-income backgrounds" to attend and that "the gift was therefore fully in line with, and helped to deliver on, LMH's commitment to diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism".

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